7 February 2001

Outer Space Scientific and Technical Subcommittee to Hold
Thirty-eighth Session in Vienna, 12-23 February 2001

To Discuss Implementation of UNISPACE III Recommendations, Applications of Satellite Remote Sensing of the Earth and Space Debris

VIENNA, 7 February (UN Information Service) – The thirty-eighth session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) will be convening from 12 to 23 February. Among topics to be discussed are the implementation of the Third United Nations Conference on the Explorations and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III) recommendations, and matters related to remote sensing of the Earth by satellite, including applications for developing countries and monitoring of the Earth’s environment.

Other topics of discussion will include: space debris, use of nuclear power sources in outer space, means and mechanisms for strengthening inter-agency cooperation and increasing the use of space applications and services within and among entities of the United Nations system, implementation of an integrated, space-based global natural disaster management system, examination of the physical nature and technical attributes of the geostationary orbit and of its utilization and applications, including developments in space communications, as well as government and private activities to promote education in space science and engineering.

UNISPACE III Recommendations

The United Nations Space Applications Programme was established in 1971 by the General Assembly, with a mandate to assist nations in using space technology for economic, social and cultural development. UNISPACE III was held in Vienna from 19 to 30 July 1999, and it has identified specific areas and actions through which space science and technology can help solve common problems on both regional and global level.

Among UNISPACE III recommendations were the following: remote sensing in protecting the environment, facilitating and utilizing communications, improving and using positioning and location capabilities, furthering knowledge and building capacity, enhancing education and training opportunities for youth, information technology needs and the global approach, spin-offs and commercial benefits from space activities: promoting technology development and exchange, and promoting international cooperation.

The Subcommittee will discuss implementation of the Programme on Space Applications, a United Nations programme that disseminates information and provides training in the practical applications of space technology, particularly for developing countries.

Current levels of usage of space applications and services within the United Nations system will also be reviewed at the thirty-eighth session. Appropriate United Nations entities and Member States that undertake cooperative activities with those entities may make presentations. The Subcommittee will also examine the utility of space applications and services for increasing, with regard to space activities, the effectiveness, efficiency and coordination of the operations of United Nations entities. The twenty-first session of the Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities was held in Vienna from 22 to 24 January 2001. The report of that Meeting will be made available to the Subcommittee.

Natural Disaster Management

Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, typhoons, wildfires and floods, cause huge loss of life and damage to property annually around the world, and can wipe out in minutes, years of progress in economic and social development. Space technologies have important applications to disaster reduction and emergency management. For this reason the Subcommittee will start a new work plan entitled "Implementation of an Integrated Space-based Global Natural Disaster Management System". During the first year of the work plan, the Subcommittee is expected to review the types of natural disasters being faced and the extent of the application of space-based services being utilized for their mitigation. Countries may make presentations on the subject.

Space Debris

Space debris – retired or defunct satellites and fragments and small particles of various origin – will be considered as a single issue and item for discussion on a priority basis, with attention given to various aspects of space debris. The Committee, at its forty-third session, agreed that the Subcommittee should, in particular, examine the question of the costs and benefits of debris mitigation measures. As part of this examination, Member States will report on the costs of various debris mitigation measures; the consequences, including the economic aspects, of taking no debris mitigation measures; an analysis of the costs and benefits in various debris mitigation scenarios. Mission-related space debris from launch vehicles will also be discussed.

Nuclear Power Sources

The Subcommittee, at its thirty-eighth session, should continue to consider the item on the use of nuclear power sources in outer space. This four-year work plan aims to study the current international technical standards pertinent to the use of nuclear power sources in outer space. According to the work plan, the Subcommittee at its thirty-eighth session should review national and international processes, proposals and standards and national working papers relevant to the launch and peaceful use of nuclear power sources in outer space.

Space Communications

Regarding the field of space communications, as well as other questions relating to developments in space communications, taking particular account of the needs and interests of developing countries the Committee, at its forty-third session, agreed that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the International Telecommunication Union and the International Astronomical Union be invited to present the status of their work on frequency interference with radioastronomy.


During the thirty-eighth session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space two symposia are to be held at the Vienna International Centre (VIC), Conference Room III. A symposium on Terrestrial Hazards from Outer Space Objects and Phenomena will be organized by the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) and the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) on the afternoons of 12 and 13 February 2001. The symposium will provide a broad overview of the hazards that a variety of outer space objects and phenomena present to the Earth. On 19 February 2001 an industry symposium on Emerging Applications of Global Navigation Satellite Systems will be held. It will focus on the emerging applications of global navigation satellite systems in improving the productivity of national and regional infrastructure.


Membership on the Subcommittee, the same as COPOUS, its parent Committee consists of the following members:

Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba*, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia*, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru*, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea*, Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam.

(*Peru and Malaysia rotate their memberships every two years with Cuba and the Republic of Korea)

* * * * *